Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

LOUDER THAN BOMBS: NOW HEAR THIS! IN PROFILE

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LOUDER THAN BOMBS: NOW HEAR THIS! IN PROFILE

Nathaniel G. Moore’s Conflict of Interest column appears biweekly.

NOW HEAR THIS! (NHT) is the Toronto literacy outreach arm of the Descant Arts & Letters Foundation. This collective presents the talents and tutelage of professional writers, editors and other industry professionals to the public, and it also co-ordinates and collaborates with other arts-based community programs, schools and literacy projects to raise literary awareness and encourage interaction between varying levels of writers.

I encouraged the collective to share with us some of the finer points that makes it tick.

NGM:

NOW HEAR THIS! has so much to offer. Can you tell us a bit about the varied projects and expanding programs you are working on?

NHT!:

In the past three years NOW HEAR THIS! has expanded its main offering, our S.W.A.T. program, to include thirteen different schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). In that time, we’ve been fortunate to work with a host of talented local writers who go to schools throughout the city to do creative writing workshops with the students and teachers, once a week for ten weeks. Our program philosophy follows the idea that by bringing professional authors into classrooms, they can encourage and foster students’ writing skills, self-esteem and critical thinking.

By collaborating with the teachers in the host schools, the writers-in-residence develop creative writing exercises based on existing course material and designed to enhance the students’ learning experience. Students are able to approach topics they’re already studying from unique perspectives; once a week over the course of the semester.

In the fall we’ll be showcasing many of these student works by launching the follow-up to 2007’s The Armadillo — an anthology of the best student writing created in the classrooms — with The Barracuda. In addition to the anthologies, we’ve created zines to introduce students to the various ways that art can be documented and produced. The S.W.A.T. experience has been enriching for everyone involved and, judging by the quality of the submissions we’ve received, it’s obvious that the students are getting a lot out of these workshops. This year has been particularly exciting for us since we recently introduced our HEAR/HEAR Reading series. This reading series was developed to create a space for our writers to have their work heard outside of the classroom and to mix with the larger literary community.

Our series is a bimonthly event and we’ve tried to differentiate ourselves from other reading series across the city by having our writers read new material. Nevertheless the main focus of our series it to celebrate the writers getting involved with youth and encouraging the community to support its local authors.

NGM:

How much do the programs and workshops cost?

NHT!:

While the S.W.A.T. program has had a successful partnership with the TCDSB, our single-session workshops will be tailored for various school boards (public and private), community centres and other organizations. Besides the ten-week S.W.A.T. residencies, we’re currently in the process of developing this series of single-session workshops (for a sneak preview go to our website in the programs page under the name “One Off Workshops”) Incidentally, the fees and costs for our workshops are dependent upon the organizations involved.

NGM:

What's coming down the road with the program?

NHT!:

Our workshops for 2010 will be mainly youth-focused (ages 13 to 18); however, we’re trying to widen that age group to include younger children. Most recently one of our writers-in-residence, Desi Di Nardo, conducted a poetry workshop with kindergarten students! We are also currently creating a partnership with PEN Canada to incorporate and create opportunities for their writers to conduct and develop workshops for youth and young adults.

For more information on NOW HEAR THIS! and its programs, visit www.nowhearthis.ca.

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